He works weekends under hazardous conditions, and about the only time he gets noticed is when he screws up. To compensate, a veteran NFL official can earn upwards of $100,000 annually. Not bad, considering he has to work only 50 days a year.
NFL officials make up one of the most exclusive clubs in sport: There are only 116 positions. Each year some 200 officials, mostly from the college ranks, apply for the eight or so NFL spots that open up. The league selects 30 candidates whom it sends for a season or two to NFL Europe. Based on their performance there, the field is narrowed to 10 finalists, who are then subjected to psychological exams and reference checks.
Compensation for those who survive the process is reasonable, if not extravagant. Rookie officials make $1,450 per game, while 20-year vets pull in the maximum of $4,500. Officials who are selected by merit to work the postseason receive $10,000 per playoff game, $15,000 for a Super Bowl. So a mid-level official making $3,000 per who works four preseason, 15 regular season and one playoff game would earn $67,000. Keep in mind, too, that nearly all NFL officials have day jobs. For example, Walt Anderson, who has worn the black and white for five NFL seasons, is also a dentist in Houston. Imagine that—two jobs in which he watches guys spit and get drilled.